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This article is about the world of the deceased. For the other plane described also as spirit world, see Emerald Dream.
The Shadowlands in Howling Fjord.

The Shadowlands (also spelled Shadow Lands,[1] or called Realm of Shadows[2], spirit world,[3][4][5][6] ghost world,[7] spirit realm,[8] astral realm,[9] world of spirits,[10] world of spirit,[11] spirit void,[12], underworld[13] and the Other Side[6][14]) is the default realm where the spirits of mortals go when they die.[6] They are a nightmarish realm of decay, a labyrinthine spiritual plane teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living.[15]

This is the plane player characters are sent to upon reaching zero health.


The Shadowlands represented in World of Warcraft: Chronicle

The origins of the Shadowlands remain uncertain, but they have existed ever since mortal life first arose in the physical universe. They seem to span all worlds, including Azeroth. They are described as nightmarish realms of decay, labyrinthine spiritual planes teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living. Many believe that mortal souls are drawn into this place at the point of death, where they remain forever after. Still others hope that their souls will go on to a brighter place, rather than languish for eternity within the cold confines of the Shadowlands.[16]

In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands are accessible upon death, where the player-character can roam, and can only be seen by other spirits.[6] The Spirit of Tony Two-Tusk describes the Shadowlands as all grey and dark, swirling clouds. While Uuna was in the Shadowlands,[17] she described it as dark and she was unable to see anything, though she could hear people interacting with her in the physical world. From within the Shadowlands she could see the light of the naaru A'dal who was in the physical world, but it was so bright that it scared her. The moonlight at Lake Falathim allowed her to see a friend in the physical world.

When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm if it is not restrained within moments of its arrival.[18] While in the Shadowlands, visions of past events may be seen.[5][19][20]

Sometimes, the spirits roam the Shadowlands without resting. It can be because their resting place wasn't complete, because of a battle in their resting place[21] or because the corruption of their resting place.[6] To bring eternal peace to the souls, it is needed to destroy the source of corruption[22] or by making a ceremony with items such as  [Tuskarr Ritual Object].[23] A spirit in the Shadowlands can, with enough power over other souls, tear a hole into the living world once they are strong enough. This is how Jin'do returned to Azeroth.[24]

Time may pass differently in the Shadowlands, as Salanar the Horseman (who was last seen in the Shadowlands, during N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows) once said that the years since he last met the Deathlord were only days for him.[25]

During the Day of the Dead, the Shadowlands draw closer to Azeroth.[26]

Icecrown is an anchor that holds Azeroth to the Shadowlands.[27]


  • Bwonsamdi is a loa who watches over deceased trolls.
  • Mueh'zala is another loa of death who presumably also resides in the Shadowlands.
  • There was a "great spirit, billowing up from the ethereal mists, shapeless" that Odyn gave his eye to in payment in order to see into the Shadowlands.[28]


World of Warcraft

WoW Icon update.png This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.

In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands can be seen when a character dies. They can be resurrected by a Spirit Healer (or by finding the corpse of their physical body, though this may be just a game mechanic).

The Shadowlands can also be witnessed by other means, such as with some specific  [Reagent Pouch].[10] It can also be seen with some devices[7] and potions[33] while being alive. Many not-dead mortals who visit the Shadowlands do not return.[34]

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King This section concerns content related to Wrath of the Lich King.

  • The Lich King gained rule over the Shadowlands with the help of the Val'kyr. Players encounter him while seeing visions of the past in the Shadowlands.[5]
  • Gan'jo, a Drakkari ghost, was able to resurrect the player from the spirit world.[35]
  • Har'koa sends the player into the Shadowlands at the Altar of Quetz'lun.[36]
  • Death knight players enter the Shadowlands to obtain their Acherus Deathchargers.
  • Quetz'lun created her own domain within the Shadowlands (that she referred to as "underworld"), after her followers had sacrificed her physical embodiment, where she tortured those who had turned against her.[13]
  • An adventurer temporarily separated their spirit from their body to question ghosts at the Forgotten Shore.[37]

The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm

WoW-novel-logo-16x62.png This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.


Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.

Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content related to Mists of Pandaria.

Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor This section concerns content related to Warlords of Draenor.


Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

A dark forest in the Shadowlands.

Battle for Azeroth

Battle for Azeroth This section concerns content related to Battle for Azeroth.

  • Centuries ago, Summoner Mepjila cursed the followers of Kimbul to constantly relive their battle with her naga forces as spirits for eternity. Kimbul sends an adventurer into the Shadowlands to slay Mepjila's spirit and free his followers from her curse.[42]
  • Talanji, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin conducted a ritual to delve into the Shadowlands and locate Vol'jin's missing spirit.[43]
  • Vol'jin's spirit and a Horde adventurer traveled through Orgrimmar in the Shadowlands as Vol'jin relived the day of his death and realized it was not the loa who told him to make Sylvanas warchief.[44]

Other afterlives

In some situations, souls may be taken to other places besides the Shadowlands:


  • The  [Headpiece of the Shadow Council] had a deep connection to the Shadowlands.
  • Spirits without a material manifestation are still able to send items from the Shadowlands to the living.[47]
  • Spirit healers wait within the Shadowlands for those unfortunate adventurers whose spirits will soon join them. These floating figures of death and rebirth return people to life where their spirit stands.[9]
  • In World of Warcraft, some quests require the player to die in order to visit the "Shadowlands" to complete objectives.
  • Though the Shadowlands and the Void are not the same,[48] the [Raise Ally] ability gives players the "Void-Touched" debuff which reads, "The touch of the spirit realm lingers..."

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.


The final destination of the spirits of the deceased remains a mystery to the priests and philosophers of Azeroth. However, as spells such as [Resurrection] can reunite a dead body with its spirit, and a majority of living creatures from the tauren to the troll shadow hunters claim they can communicate with and call upon the power of the spirits, a widely held belief is that the spirits of the dead remain on the Material Plane — in an immaterial state that can only be altered or contacted through the use of magic.[49]


  • Shadow hunters deal with the darkest aspects of the Shadowlands. Their connections to powerful voodoo spirits give them the ability to curse and heal at a whim.[50]
  • The Inner and Outer Planes doesn't appear to exist in Warcraft universe, however, they are related to the Shadowlands.[49]
  • The spell called "spiritual projection" or "astral projection" brings the caster to the Twisting Nether instead of the Shadowlands;[51] and the Twisting Nether is also referred as "realm of ghosts".[52] However, both planes don't appear to be related, as Outland is floating on the Twisting Nether,[51] but the Shadowlands can be reached in Outland in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.
  • The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.[53]


This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.


  1. ^ a b Ner'zhul (tactics)#Quotes
  2. ^ N Death knight [101 - 110] Salanar the Horseman and Salanar the Horseman (mission)
  3. ^ Day of the Dead
  4. ^ Zarhym (NPC)
  5. ^ a b c A [71] The Echo of Ymiron
  6. ^ a b c d e N [75] See You on the Other Side
  7. ^ a b  [Spectrecles],  [Evoker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Druidic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stealther's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Shamanistic Helmet of Second Sight],  [Stalker's Helmet of Second Sight],  [Overlord's Helmet of Second Sight]
  8. ^ H Shaman [60D] The Darkreaver Menace
  9. ^ a b World of Warcraft Official Strategy Guide, pg. 28
  10. ^ a b A [71] Into the World of Spirits
  11. ^ The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm
  12. ^  [Shao-Tien Spirit Dagger]
  13. ^ a b Quetz'lun's quotes
  14. ^ Fuel for the Voodoo#Completion
  15. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. ??
  16. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 12
  17. ^  [Uuna's Doll] pet description
  18. ^  [Soul Coffer]
  19. ^ A [71] Anguish of Nifflevar
  20. ^ a b A [15] A Vision of the Past
  21. ^ N [72] The Honored Ancestors
  22. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  23. ^ N [72] Picking Up the Pieces
  24. ^ N [85H] Break the Godbreaker
  25. ^ N Death knight [103 - 110D] Neltharion's Lair: Braid of the Underking
  26. ^ The Day of the Dead has Arrived: "Can you feel it? The spirit world draws close during the Day of the Dead."
  27. ^ H [120] Jailor of the Damned
  28. ^ The Legend of Odyn
  29. ^ N Death Knight [55] Into The Realm of Shadows
  30. ^ H [73] The Power to Destroy
  31. ^ a b Spirit Healer dialogue
  32. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 57
  33. ^ N [67] Vision of the Dead
  34. ^ N [75] Jin'arrak's End
  35. ^ N [75] Chill Out, Mon
  36. ^ N [77] Seek the Wind Serpent Goddess
  37. ^ A [72] The Forgotten Tale
  38. ^ N [86] Ritual Artifacts
  39. ^ H [100] Seeking the Truth
  40. ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 48
  41. ^ N Death knight [110] Aggregates of Anguish
  42. ^ H [110 - 120] The Curse of Mepjila
  43. ^ H [120] The Lost Spirit
  44. ^ H [120] Where He Died
  45. ^ Roughneck Logger#Quotes
  46. ^ Warbringers: Jaina
  47. ^ N [67D] Everything Will Be Alright
  48. ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
  49. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 132
  50. ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 45
  51. ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 131
  52. ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 152
  53. ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
  54. ^ Edge of Night
  55. ^ Unholy Attainment: Essence of Shadow
  56. ^ H [98] The Blessing of Samedi
  57. ^ H [98] I Help Ya Kill Dem